|Posted on November 14, 2017 at 9:00 PM|
Article by Dan Tortora
With only sophomore shooting guard Tyus Battle, junior point guard Frank Howard, and junior center Paschal Chukwu having played in a game together for the Syracuse Orange last season, the expectations are wide open and the evidence of who they will be is anything but clear.
What is known is that the Orange bonded together with three returning players, a redshirt-freshman, four true freshmen, and a graduate transfer to win their first contest by more than 30, defeating the Cornell Big Red and head coach Jim Boeheim's son, Jimmy Boeheim in their first collegiate game against one another, 77-45.
Early on in this contest, two things happened on the interior that were lacking in Game 1: 1. Syracuse looked inside and fed the ball into the paint and 2. Chukwu got involved offensively.
Chukwu had two dunks within the first few minutes of the game, already out-scoring himself from the game prior, where he had two points in 20 minutes.
Aftering going scoreless on their first three possessions, the Orange followed by going 3-for-3 from the field.
Just as on the first six possessions, however, Syracuse would struggle with consistency on offense, while allowing Iona to gain confidence on offense.
The Gaels would steal away the Orange lead when they elevated to a 15-13 score by taking advantage of a quiet Syracuse offense that scored a mere four points in over six minutes. Junior guard Rickey McGill's three-pointer at the 10:01 mark of the first half capped off a 10-4 run by Iona to gain the lead.
Syracuse and Iona would immediately trade the lead back-and-forth before the Orange took it away on a layup by Howard that made it 18-17 with 8:08 to play before the break. The Orange would hold onto the lead for the remainder of the first half, but not without the Gaels keeping it interesting, as the Gaels came within four points on multiple occasions, then within two, and even within one.
At the half, the Orange led by a mere two possessions, 32-28.
After turning the ball over to begin the second half, Brissett came right back on the next possession for the Orange with a jumper.
But Syracuse struggled to fend off a fesity Iona squad from the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC).
McGill's three-pointer at the 17:23 mark of the second half brought the game within two for Iona, 36-34. The Gaels would be behind by no more than two possessions for over seven minutes to follow, playing as close as within one during the timespan of the 17:23 mark to 10:19 left in the game.
Iona would stay within two possessions of Syracuse for 13 minutes and 23 seconds of the 20-minute second half.
Close, but never in the lead.
Syracuse can thank Battle for that. In the second half alone, Battle went 9-for-13 for 23 points. He was 2-for-6 in the first half, amounting five points, giving him 28 points in 35 minutes played in the game on 11-for-19 shooting from the field.
Battle would add five rebounds (four defensive and one offensive), three assists, one block, and one steal to his stellar performance, while committing only one foul and not a single turnover.
The Orange got out to a double-digit lead on more than one occasion late in the game and eventually won by nine, 71-62, to improve to 2-0 on the season, both wins coming at home.